Week Two: GMO Foods, Puppets etc.

By nuff
October 7, 2023
2 min read

Systems Thinking and GMO Foods

This week, we're reading Steve Easterbrook's article Systems Thinking and Genetically Modified Food. (As an aside, he appears to be a prof at U of T, so shout out the 6ix.)

The general thrust of the article seems to be that as different groups of people approach the issue of research into GMO from different perspectives, it can be hard to come to any kind of consensus about whether the protests are "a good thing" and what the ideal way to critique or challenge the research might be.

  • I’m not sure how lens/worldview/stakeholder == system in this context. Maybe I’m just dense or I’m getting stuck looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place, but I’m reading “system” as “network of connected nodes with collective and emergent behaviour”. The system of scientists doing research kinda makes sense in that I can see that as a closed loop/silo where they interact with each other to produce and refine knowledge. But as soon as we get to system 2 (ethics and research management), that just sounds like a concern about system 1. 5 and 6 kind of make sense to me but the rest don’t.
  • I don’t really have any understanding of GMOs but of all the listed systems, 2 (a system of research ethics and risk management) and 8 (a system of sustainable agriculture, with long time horizons) “make sense” to me—they seem to both be concerned with asking whether and why this research should happen at all.
    • The ethics/risk stakeholders are concerned with beneficence. They want to minimise risk and make sure the overall benefits of the research outweigh whatever risk does exist
    • The sustainable agriculture stakeholders want to make sure we don’t pursue good, short-term solutions in favour of better or more permanent ones. They look at the bigger picture over a longer time horizon.

Systems Maps: Puppets


Tools for Systems Thinkers: Systems Mapping

Project 01 Research So Far


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